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Broncos welcome Slater's return

By Eden Richards – NRL.com

Billy_Slater_training_1

You might think the Brisbane Broncos would be dreading the return of Melbourne fullback Billy Slater, but it appears to be quite the opposite with many of the squad happy to see the Storm legend back in the game. 

‌Slater has been tipped to return against the Broncos on Thursday night after more than a year out of the game with a shoulder injury. 

The 33-year-old feared he might never play again after only managing eight games in the past two seasons, but to his credit, he has fought back from the brink of retirement. 

A return this week would put him up against Queensland Origin rival Darius Boyd, with the match-up shaping to define who will wear the No.1 jersey for the Maroons in 2017. 

This is just one of many storylines that will take place throughout Thursday's blockbuster, as Brisbane try to return to the winners' circle after a one-point defeat to the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 2. 

The Storm however will be looking for their third win in a row after dismantling the Warriors in New Zealand last Friday night. 

Broncos lock Josh McGuire knows the challenge in front of his side – and although he is aware of how much talent Slater will add to Melbourne's starting 13, he is just happy to see one the game's best make his long-awaited return. 

“It's good to see Billy playing footy again if he is back this week,” McGuire said.  

“It's been a long layoff for him so I'm sure he's excited to get out there and start playing some good footy. 

“I've always seen Billy as the ultimate professional, so I'm sure he'll be ready. He's not the type of person to come into a match underdone.

“He won't have to worry about me targeting him because I can't catch him. He's too quick for me!”

Playing against Slater will be an unforgettable experience for Brisbane lock Jai Arrow who grew up watching the superstar fullback. 

Slater debuted in 2003 when Arrow was just an eight-year-old dreaming of one day playing in the NRL.  

Arrow – who spent last season impressing with the Norths Devils – told media on Monday that it would be a surreal feeling knowing that he is going up against a player he has idolised since childhood. 

"It will be another learning curve for playing against someone of that calibre. I'm only young so it will be a good experience," Arrow said. 

“I'll enjoy it and try and do my best on him when he comes my way. 

“I grew up watching him. He's been a part of the game for a long time so it will be surreal to take him on down in Melbourne. 

“I'm really looking forward to the challenge of taking on Billy and that whole side. They are strong across the park.”

*This first appeared on NRL.com